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Obama cuts short Asia trip due to US shutdown

President Obama has postponed two stops on his four-nation Asian tour because of government shutdown, White House says.

Last Modified: 02 Oct 2013 14:50
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White House says President Obama would still be attending regional summits in Indonesia and Brunei [AFP]

US President Barack Obama has postponed the Malaysia and Philippines portions of his four-nation Asian tour because of the government shutdown.

The White House said on Wednesday that it would continue to evaluate the Indonesia and Brunei portions of the president's trip based on how events develop throughout the course of the week.

President Obama is scheduled to set off on the trip on Saturday.

He was to have visited Malaysia and the Philippines after attending international summits in Indonesia and Brunei.

The US government has partially shut down after the two houses of Congress failed to agree a new budget.

Earlier, Obama vowed not to allow Republicans to undermine his signature healthcare legislation, officially known as the Affordable Care Act, as a condition to restart the US government.

More than 700,000 federal employees face unpaid leave, and national parks, museums and many buildings are closed.

Shutdown affects employees and tourists

Shutdown effects

Some critical parts of the government, including the military and air traffic control, will remain open. The shutdown will, however, keep hundreds of thousands of federal workers at home and unpaid.

Effects of the shutdown
  • Federal workers: As many as 1 million have been furloughed
  • Defense Department: Military personnel will continue to work, but half of the Pentagon's 800,000 civilian employees will not
  • National parks: Closed to new visitors
  • Social Security: Cheques will still be mailed

Read more »

It could affect government services including park management, food assistance for children and pregnant women and federal home loan programmes.  Federal agencies, such as NASA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and others, were also affected.

On Tuesday, Obama spoke bluntly about House Republicans: "You don't get to extract a ransom for doing your job, for doing what you're supposed to be doing anyway, or just because there's a law there that you don't like".

Speaking of the healthcare law that undergoes a major expansion on Tuesday, he said: "That funding is already in place. You can't shut it down".

The Republican speaker of the House, John Boehner, responded a few hours later on the House floor. "The American people don't want a shutdown and neither do I," he said. However, he added, the new healthcare law was having "a devastating impact ... something has to be done".

House Republicans have sought a year's delay in a requirement in the healthcare law for individuals to buy coverage.

However, in recent days several Republican senators and House members said they would be willing to vote for straightforward legislation with no healthcare-related provisions.

The last shutdown, in the winter of 1995-96, severely damaged Republican election prospects.

Stock markets around the world reacted resiliently to the shutdown on Tuesday morning, with analysts saying significant damage to the US economy was unlikely unless the shutdown lasted more than a few days.

After falling the day before the US shutdown deadline, European stocks mostly recovered. In Asia, stocks were mixed, while Wall Street was expected to open slightly higher.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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